Pakistan - better check your spelling. And then check it again.

To the seemingly unending series of incidents demonstrating that barbarism (in the guise of fundamentalist Islam) is alive and thriving in Pakistan, we can add the following: a 13-year-old Christian girl committed the apparently unpardonable sin of making a spelling mistake. More specifically, in writing out a poem to the Prophet, she made the totally plausible error of adding an extra stroke to the Urdu script for the word ‘praise’ thereby changing it to read ‘curse’ (see the graphic in the link for what I mean by ‘plausible’). The consequences of this obviously innocent error have been grave for her and her family.

She has been expelled from her school (yes, expelled!) and, though it seems beyond belief, her mother has lost her job and her family evicted from her home.

There is nothing I can write, and I suppose there is nothing we can do, to change what’s happened in this girl’s case. So, I guess you can file this under ‘RO’ if you want. That being said, it won’t change the fact that so long as the type of events described in the link are allowed to occur, how can the US’s ongoing support (financial and otherwise) of Pakistan be justified? It can’t.

What grammar Nazi assholes.

On the other hand, I bet she won’t do it again.

As much as I am for religious freedom, that is not a mistake which can be made easily especially, since “Naat” rarely appears in written text, except as a heading and “Lanaat” can and does.

The fact is, if they wanted her to respect Islam, they have done exactly the opposite -only make her fear and hate it. The article even mentions this.

Tragic. But, it was more than adding a stroke. She transposed two letters and added a third (which could be considered a stroke). I guess she won’t be entering any spelling bees in the future.

So you think she did it on purpose? Why would she do that?
And do you believe her whole family should be punished to such an extreme?
Is Islam so fragile that a single penstroke can bring it crashing down?

Good enough for me, counselor. Off with her hands!

maybe 13-year old Christian girls have no business going to Muslim schools in Pakistan. Just saying…

There are also more serious threats to being a Christian girl in Pakistan than spelling mistakes. E.g.

Just say no to pakistanophobia! Hate is not cool. :rolleyes:

It very well could be as simple as a single stroke. What you see in the picture in the article are two words that look very very similar. There are differences such as

  1. an extra line in the middle
  2. an elongated line at the end
  3. a transposal of dots over the word.

So different, yes, but how different? We obviously can’t see what she wrote but I can easily imagine it to be a word without any dots above at all. I don’t know Arabic but I know Hebrew and in Hebrew you can write a word literally without any vowel markers which are above and below the word, trusting your reader to fill those in. If the same goes for Arabic, the dots may not have been in her word at all.
Then there’s the elongated line at the end. How elongated? Compared to what? It looks to be 100% of the length of the other lines but if it’s 50% of the length is it “praise” or “curse”

Only one way to know! That extra line. That’s the key.

So yeah, I could very easily imagine this entire thing happened because someone just learning Arabic put a single extra line in her word.

Yeah, but Christians… {fill in standard tu quoque here}

I guess that makes it okay, then. Besides, it’s just part of their culture. Who are we to judge? Besides, Americans are worse. Blah blah blah.

The opinions expressed in the “Comments” section of the Toronto Star article are almost as outrageous as what happened to this girl. Even worse is the number of Star Readers who are voting to express their support for those sentiments.

Just one example:

The comment above has an 87 percent “agree with” rating.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the comments, click here for a direct link.

And a thirteen-year old would have such spelling experience/intuition?

I love how people are arguing whether or not she intended to do this on purpose, or if it was a spelling mistake.

Either way, Pakistan is a cruel, intolerant, woman-hating country.

Yeah I was about to say - even if it were done on purpose, she should be able to curse “The Prophet” all she wants.

In fact, I’m going to do it for her just because there are people who sadly live in parts of the world where they aren’t allowed to express themselves freely.

Pakistani government: if you’re reading this, fuck “The Prophet”. Fuck him up the ass with a rusty fork.


I think the Government acted with a lot of wisdom. The girl and her mother live in an areas where tensions are high, not far from areas which have seen heavy fighting in recent years between militants and Security Forces, and where militants have targeted minority communities. She could have been a target, transfering her mother to a different province was the right to to do.

You on the other hand, are an idiot.

Yes, people are all experts on languages they do not know.

  1. The language in question is not Arabic, its Urdu. The national language. A language every student will know, years before they reach her class.

  2. The words are quite differnent. Its not just a question of “longer lines” or “dots”. The offending word has 4 letters, while the other one has three, and with one letter being the second to last in the offending word, and the first in the other word and one additional word at the begining which is the “L” sound.

These people might disagree with you.

That’s a valid point. I know when I was in middle school, taking a stressful handwritten exam, I never accidentally misspelled a word, changing the meaning of a sentence, because who could ever misspell a sword in their native language? And it’s a good thing I didn’t, too, because if I had, it would have been only fair to ruin not just my life, but my entire family’s lives as well.

It’s “Catch these men”, Sean.